28 VERDICT OX INDIA xould laugh at it, the Muslims usould despise it, ihe Princes would regard it as a form of lunacy S It was the reference to the Princes which caused the bitterest taunts and the wildest accusation. President Roosevelt, sitting in a plain wooden chair, vas contrasted with Linlithgow, lolling on a throne surrounded by bejewelled satellites. What all these critics ignored v;as chat the Princes existed, that they always had existed, and that the very fact of their existence was in itself sufficient justification for the size and splendour of the Viceregal weaage. Let us malce this point quite clear. A number of Indian commentators write as though the Princes did not erasfc, or as if they were* at the most, a bunch of rich idlers, invented by the British, for their own nefarious purposes. This is a fabulous distortion of the facts. The Princes exist to the 2:rtent of ruling over nearly two-fifths of the entire territory of India and their subjects number no less than eighty millions. Moreover, their States, which number over five hundred, are sewn so firmly into the main fabric by the threads of history and of self-interest that any attempt to tear them out might cause the •whole thing to fall apart. Some of these States, of course, are very small; they shine on India's quilt like tiny specks of gold ; but others are nearly the size of France, governed by rulers with wide powers and lusty ambitions, who have not the faintest intention of retiring without a fight to the death. Many writers lightly assume that Gandhi is the sworn enemy of the Princes. If they turn to page 21 of Gandhism; Nationalism; Socialism, by M. N. Roy (published by Bengal Radical Club), they will find an account of an interview in which Gandhi declared his determination to defend the Princes and landlords by all means should ever any attempt be made to confiscate their property by violence. Our critics speak as if we had invented these fabulous persons. They speak as though we bad loaded them with their incredible jewels, stocked their harems, and caparisoned their elephants. We did nothing of the sort. We found all these things intact, functioning as they had functioned throughout the centuries; the Princely pantomime was already in full swing when the British broke insto the Indian theatre.